By Kristian Dyer
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Rex Ryan is the master manipulator, and that is a good thing right now for the Jets coming off Sunday’s 27-13 win in St. Louis.
The head coach kept calm under intense media scrutiny during a week of preposterous speculation and pointed questions about his locker room — and a perceived divide therein. With repeated questions about anonymous sources calling backup quarterback Tim Tebow “terrible” and the team’s wide receivers being called “garbage,” Ryan shifted the focus.
Rather than blame his team, Ryan created a fallacy of an idea that this was the media’s doing.
So the fact that his team was speaking off the record? That was the media’s doing. And that a player was allegedly badmouthing his own teammates in these statements? Again, it was the media’s doing. Then there’s all the hype and controversy that this unnamed source brought on the team? Yep, the media’s doing.
And somehow, Ryan made this masterful spin job work. If the White House ever needs a new press secretary, well, they found their man in the Jets head coach. Then again, his audience was the media or the fans – it was his own locker room. See, Ryan manipulating the message was about getting into his team’s collective mind and asking them to have an attitude adjustment.
For Ryan’s message to the team was that this wasn’t their doing as the media was creating this issue to sell newspapers and get better television ratings. He completely ignored the fact that these quotes reportedly came from his own locker room because that didn’t suit his purposes. Blaming the media was a step towards the Jets righting their woeful season so far. His statements took the pressure off his team and shifted it elsewhere, no matter how erroneous that might be.
By blaming the media for making an issue out of this, Ryan created this idea that his team was the victim. It was everyone ganging up on the Jets to try and tear them down. Last year the distractions came from inside the locker room and the media ran with the stories that leaked out, making it difficult for the Jets to dodge their own mess.
But this latest controversy comes neatly wrapped with the most stinging comments coming without a name attached, letting Ryan paint them as something external coming at his team. It served as a rallying cry, creating the idea in the Jets locker room that they aren’t liked and everyone is out to get them.
It worked as the Jets played one of their best games of the year against the Rams.
The beauty of what Ryan did was manipulate the situation and create a mentality in his team that nothing was going to come easily and that they had to band together. Even owner Woody Johnson hinted at this mindset last week when he addressed the media and said that what was happening – what his team was going through – would unite them. He, like Ryan, failed to address the issue of the source coming from within the locker room. That didn’t matter as it wasn’t the talking point.
Instead, Ryan asked his team to come together and focus on themselves and not to address the heart of the issue but rather to pin this on outsiders trying to derail their season. Someday this might come back to bite Ryan and the Jets since they never publicly dealt with the issue of anonymous sources and backstabbing comments. Someday the next issue might be bigger and a weak precedent has been set.
But someday isn’t yesterday, and on Sunday the Jets won. Chalk another one up for Ryan, who in confusion found profit.
Kristian R. Dyer covers the Jets for Metro New York and can be followed on Twitter @KristianRDyer for news, insight, snarky comments and breaking Jets news.
Was this Rex’s best spin job yet? Be heard in the comments below…